Saint Pius X Catholic Church was originally located in “University Heights” near Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. Catholic traditions in the Selinsgrove area go back to colonial times. It is fairly certain that the Jesuit missionaries from Canada, who used the Susquehanna River as a highway for evangelization, visited the Indian villages at the mouth of Penn’s Creek and on the Isle of Que.
Towards the end of the eighteenth century, Major Anthony Selin, a devout Swiss Catholic and founder of Selinsgrove, decided to raise his family in Selinsgrove. In 1791, Father John Heilbron, a missionary from Holland, baptized the Selin children, probably in their home in Selinsgrove. However, no Catholic church existed in the town, and residents had to travel to Milton, Pennsylvania, for services.
In 1828 when the Pennsylvania Canal was being dug through Selinsgrove, there was much activity in the town. The laborers were mostly Catholic immigrants from Ireland, who never lost their faith. They purchased property on the Isle of Que and began construction of a brick chapel under the leadership of Father John Fitzpatrick from Milton. However, for various reasons, the chapel was never finished.
Over fifty years of silence followed the visit of the Irish immigrants. The scattered Catholics in this area attended services in Milton, Sunbury and Shamokin. However, it was a rather long distance to travel to Sunday Mass, religious instruction and for spiritual nourishment.
During World War II through the efforts of Monsignor Charles E. Park, then pastor of Saint Michael’s Church in Sunbury, Pennsylvania, Mass was offered at Susquehanna University for the Catholic students in ROTC. After the war a huge power plant drew many Catholics to the area, and in 1952 Bishop George L. Leech established a mission in Selinsgrove which he “attached” to Saint Michael’s in Sunbury. The first Mass was celebrated in the American Legion Hall in Selinsgrove on March 2, 1952, by Father Francis X. Butler, pastor of Saint Michael’s Church.
In April, 1954, a house at Broad and Pine Streets was purchased for use as a chapel and on July 19, 1954, the mission was named Saint Pius X, the first Catholic Church in Snyder County. In 1957 the mission was “attached” to the newly established parish of Saint Thomas Moore in Northumberland, Pennsylvania, with Father Mathias Siedlecki in charge. During his term, the house was sold and property was purchased to build a church. At that time Sunday Mass was said in the Governor Snyder Hotel until a new church was completed.
A groundbreaking ceremony was conducted on Palm Sunday on March 22, 1959, and on December 13, 1959, Bishop Leech was placed the cornerstone and dedicated the new church on University Avenue. The new church was dedicated during the pastorate of Father Anthony McGinley. On June 29, 1964, Bishop Leech separated Saint Pius X from Saint Thomas Moore in Northumberland and appointed Father Anthony Burakowski as the first pastor of Saint Pius X Church and chaplain of the Selinsgrove State School and Hospital. On January 1, 1966, Father Burakowski established a residence in a rectory comprised of three mobile homes.
In December of 1976 a new rectory with classrooms in the basement for religious education was completed. As the congregation grew, an addition was necessary to fulfill the religious and pastoral need of the parish. Since 1980 the pastor of Saint Pius X Church has also been the Catholic Campus Minister for the Catholic students attending Susquehanna University. The parish was expanding, and the needs of the physical structure became more evident. On August 6, 1983, ground was broken for the expansion of Saint Pius X Church along with a social ball. This project was dedicated on May 26, 1984, by Bishop William H. Keeler.
Through the years, Saint Pius X Church has increased its congregation as well as its physical and spiritual needs. In 2000, Father Joseph A. Celia purchased property in Penn Township for a new larger church to be built for the congregation. Upon arrival of Father Ted Keating, strategic planning began and a successful Capital Campaign was help to meet the financial needs of the building project. Through a great deal of sacrifice and much hard work, the parishioners and Father Ted Keating realized their dream. On May 24, 2008, Bishop Kevin J. Rhoades dedicated the new church located at 112 Fairview Drive, Selinsgrove amidst many happy parishioners.
It was through the dedication, sacrifice and religious examples of Father Ted Keating, and the selfless parishioners that Saint Pius X Church continued to grow and to meet the spiritual needs of its congregation.
In June 2012, we welcomed Father Dan Powell as pastor and trust that God will continue to lead us as we move forward in faith.